Beyond the Bio is a series that takes you past the canvas and into the minds of the artists and curators who build the contemporary arts community.
Name: Jean-Pierre Verdijo
Primary Medium: Primarily Photos, Text, Maps and other significant paper on handmade wood panels with House, Spray, Acrylic, Oil paint
What motivates your work?
Humanity’s quest for its highest ground is my greatest inspiration, besides nature. Nature is relentless, unfazed and ultra adaptive, those qualities excite and fortify my being. What motivates us to want to communicate to one another. Those are the same forces that propel me into the studio.
Mixed Media releases me to pull from everywhere. I feel the most free when working with multiple mediums. As a native New Yorker I’m sure that the sight of posters and bills posted with chalk and spray paint and stickers all beautifully torn and layered got me at an early age. I’m eternal reaching back to those experiences while extending forward towards how our archetypes are current challenged.
How long have you been an artist and how has your practice changed over time?
Kindergarten, smock, tempera, turtleneck, I was about that life. Reaganomics was hard on my family and on the art programs of most public schools. From ages five to twenty I did not touch paint but once maybe twice. I always kept pencils and would draw, If I got a hold of scissors and a sharpie then I’d refashion my clothes. Once I got a skateboard at age 14 I proceeded to engage in a street dance performance art that laid the ground work for my reemergence as an artist at age twenty.
My skills have developed, techniques have been pioneered, at the heart of things though I feel that I’m still true to my youthful mission to envision and produce work that encourages love. Not the surface love, but the introspective, willing to forgive and change love. The love that’s painful to undertake, and made sweeter though the effort.
What are you working on right now?
Currently I’m focusing on issues of activism, self worth and care, as it relates to the mystical experience of unity and self realization. I see a direct relationship between the depth of love we allow ourselves to feel and our ability to honor others, and in a balance with how much grace and awareness we have in our lives.
My pieces are typically 40%- 90% up-cycled materials. I’d like to work increasingly more sustainably. To keep learning about other leaders and programs like the work of Scott Johnson and the re-purposing project that he has implemented and expanded through the city of Austin Hazardous Household Waste division. I get almost all my paints vanishes and adhesives from him.
This year I’m committing myself to making the leap into the world of sculpture. I have four in the works that I’m going to show at the East Austin Studio Tour this year.
What does the Austin arts community need most as the city continues to grow?
I don’t know what the Austin Arts Community needs most as the city continues to grow.
However, I do believe that we could use a space downtown. Much like the new library, but a museum/gallery/community space with artist studios.
This would function as educational center, a center of culture, a center for happenings and exploration. A place where art could truly thrive spontaneously in a container, along side curated experiences, and somehow tied to the global stage.
The Lewis Vs Verdijo Art Showdown on the 18th was born out of a culinary curiosity for mixing flavors and a propensity for relishing saying yes to creative expression.
Marty Lewis and have a lot in common, we both work in mixed media, are single fathers, and are deeply committed to a prolific and spontaneous nature in our practices.
Conversely we have a lot of differences as well. He comes from a stable family upbringing, while I spent a good chunk of my childhood homeless and transient, He can deconstruct a painting and talk intellectually about art to a degree that is far over my head. While my attention quickly gravitates to the emotive and dare I say spiritual quality of a work.
We are exhibiting a couple collaborative works along side several of our individual works. There’s been a host of supporters to make this night a reality. I’m especially grateful for my old friend DJ canGuru laying down the Soundscape for the night. He’s been DJing art parties and receptions for the last 15 years, and has such a strong intuition around art and sound. Jessica Oleksy for taking photos and helping with media and design. Special thanks to Olga Ortega at Halcyon for valuing quality artwork and giving us a platform to exhibit.
Beyond the Bio is curated by Art Alliance Austin. If you’re interested in being featured, email Andrea at firstname.lastname@example.org.